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Nashville - Off the beaten track

Cheekwood Museum of Art & Botanical Gardens

The grand 1920s mansion of the Cheek family - heirs to the Maxwell House Coffee fortune - is now open to the public as a fine arts gallery (the city's sole art museum) and botanical gardens. The three-storey neo-Georgian home is a work itself, with lapis lazuli mantles and trompe de l'oeil statuary. Exhibits range from Worcester porcelain to Warhol. Stone carvings by self-taught local artist Will Edmondson (1883-1951), the first African American to have had a one-man show at New York's Museum of Modern Art, are among the exhibits. The lovely 55ac (22ha) urban retreat also hosts classical concerts by Vanderbilt musicians in summer, and an outdoor sculpture trail is planned. The museum is about 35mi (50km) southwest of downtown Nashville, and a car is the best way to reach it.

Nashville Wildlife Park & Zoo

The Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere is a 'walk-through' park where visitors might catch a glimpse of cougars, black bears or gray wolves. The Nashville Zoo is in the Grassmere grounds and houses leopards, lions, white tigers, giraffes and red pandas. Grassmere is about 20mi (35km) south of downtown Nashville off I-24, while Joelton is 12mi (20km) northwest. A car is the best way to reach both.

The Hermitage

The historic home of Andrew Jackson, the Hermitage is Nashville's most prized historic-home museum and a monument to the state's most famous political figure. Beginning his national political career as Tennessee's single Representative even before it had officially gained statehood, the fiery-tempered Jackson went on to become the 7th US president.

Set among gardens in a wooded urban retreat, the graceful mansion is an amalgamation of its original 1821 Federal style with Pallatian flourishes and Grecian columns added in the 1830s. The big house was once the centre of a self-sufficient cotton plantation worked by 150 slaves. The modern visitor centre introduces Jackson's life with a short film.

The Hermitage is about 20 miles (30km) northeast of Nashville, and a car is the best way to reach it.

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